In Harry Potter's wizarding world, a funny looking sorting hat puts you into houses like Gryffindor or Slytherin, and you have no choice in the matter. You don't get to pick where you want to be.
Luckily with SEO that is not the case, you can choose your own SEO hat in the process- you can choose to be a White Hat SEO or Black Hat SEO or even its strange cousin the hybrid Gray Hat SEO. But would you be better for it? Would you be a competent SEO wizard? Who knows?
But for the moment, let’s deal with the differences between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. Gray Hat SEO remains that alien thing you want to keep some distance from and just prod with a stick for now. Don’t go into that until you master at least some SEO basic techniques.
Now, to optimise your website for maximum gains, you can lay out the groundwork for search engines to discover your products and services through the process of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
Search Engine Optimisation covers a wide range of methods that can increase visitor traffic and the search engine ranking of a website.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are multiple targeted ways to boost your site to reach the top rank, and the difference between Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO has more to do with the ways you are trying to optimise your website than anything else.
Choosing White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO techniques are actionable search engine optimisation strategies that align with the rules of most search engines algorithms, particularly that of Google’s. Primarily, it’s building content that makes sense for humans rather than robots.
Most White Hat SEO techniques require a considerable amount of time to take effect because you are avoiding the short cuts and shallow tactics associated with Black Hat SEO. You focus on long-term organic goals, to reach the top rank of search engines you know you have to do a lot of link building and content creation. You need your site content to mature and receive visits naturally by way of Google or backlinks from reputable sites.
How can you make White Hat SEO tactics work well for your website? Here's a list to help you start:
Creating quality and original content relevant to your site’s niche
Informative visual content
Properly optimised meta tags
Good site architecture and responsive navigation
Competent Technical SEO to boost site performance
White Hat he long run produces better results. It is an ethical way to build trust and authority online.
Though White Hat SEO necessitates more time and effort from your team, the pay off is well worth it. In the long run, your initial efforts and hard work will enable consistent google rankings, and you don’t have to worry about getting banned by search engines such as Google. Whatever future algorithm changes Google may release, the site adjustments you will need to do by then are pretty much minimal. Why? Because you followed the rules and kept it clean. The organisations that shout the most about upcoming Google changes are those who have previously cut corners.
To counter Black hat SEO, Google makes changes to their algorithms, which often sends SEO specialists into a frenzy. It often becomes a race to find out what works or no longer works. What stays optimised or what doesn’t? But why do certain website developers try Black Hat SEO techniques?
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO has its appeal, and for some who are out to make a quick buck, turning to such Black Hat tactics has its appeal. Some companies charging for results and guaranteeing page one within a time frame often apply these methods, because they are against a deadline where big money will be lost if they don’t meet it. But quick doesn’t make your ranking last, and it can be more damaging to your site in the long run.
Black Hat SEO is all about shortcuts and getting around the rules and tricking the algorithms into thinking your site is golden when it’s not. Half of your approach is manipulative and your content dubious. And it is easy to fake content, purchase links and stuff irrelevant keywords. You can even alter so many things in the code that it’s so underhanded; your site is practically a sheep in wolf’s clothing. You are not what you say you are. Though search engines can be duped, keeping up with the pretense is another thing.
So what are the ultimate traffic killers? Here are 4 Black Hat SEO tactics to avoid:
Packing your pages with too many keywords is a no-no. Keyword stuffing is the repetitive method of mentioning the same set of keywords over and over. What you can do is create good quality content that flows well, your sentences should read naturally and not come off as an annoying hard-sell gambit.
To those unfamiliar with Black Hat methods, cloaking works by presenting completely different meta information for index by bots to collect and an entirely different content for visitors viewing your site. For example, a bot may index a website for doll collectors, because the meta description is entirely legit, but when you view the browser content, the page text doesn’t show anything about dolls but instead shows you malicious content.
A notorious Black Hat technique using a bait-and-switch routine. Once the site ranks high in the searches, it changes its content to something else that doesn’t have anything to do with the original site niche it ranked for.
This is domain squatting at its finest. Some resort to bulk domain name registering, a buy-and-sell domain hustle to make bank. By purchasing domain names of existing real-world brands and famous names, there’s already substantial traffic to be had, and they would use this existing site traffic to their advantage by parking web pages that have nothing to do with the domain name. For example, buying the domain name of a famous Hollywood actor, then building a website around it to promote organic farm products.
Black hat SEO is risky, and the fall-out from the search engines is quite severe if you get caught implementing such black hat tactics. Not only would you go straight down in the rankings, but your site can get blacklisted, and that is a SEO hell hole you cannot crawl out of unscathed. Manipulative SEO on-page tactics can get you Google-flagged as a deceptive site.
A Change of Hats and SEO Habits
In the end, you wouldn’t want to spend a vast sum and utilise a tonne of your resources correcting earlier Black Hat efforts and dusting off all the negative impact it’s had on your site’s rankings.
So think it through, if you’re currently in the planning stage of your web development, go for the route that shows more promise and security.
If you started out with Black Hat tactics or have been following these methods for some time now, you should come to accept that you didn’t start off with a clear path in mind. Turnaround now and try to reverse the damage you are causing, do the necessary changes on your website before the next bot index visit. Be brave to abandon your previous Black Hat practice now and move on to new White Hat techniques. It’s better to stop before you are caught as opposed to wait till you are, then be penalised so much, Google Ads is the only option to possibly save your business.
If you need help planning for your initial SEO campaign and even future ones, there’s 1768degrees.com
We are a Whangarei and Northland-based website design and development agency. We create responsive websites and relevant content for your SEO needs. Email us now for a consult.